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Journal cover: American Journal of Business

American Journal of Business

ISSN: 1935-5181

Online from: 1986

Subject Area: Management Science/Management Studies

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Spatial density and ambient scent: effects on consumer anxiety

Document Information:
Title:Spatial density and ambient scent: effects on consumer anxiety
Author(s):Tina Poon, (Department of Marketing, John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada), Bianca Grohmann, (Department of Marketing, John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada)
Citation:Tina Poon, Bianca Grohmann, (2014) "Spatial density and ambient scent: effects on consumer anxiety", American Journal of Business, Vol. 29 Iss: 1, pp.76 - 94
Keywords:Ambient scent, Replication, Retail atmospherics, Retailing, Spatial density
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/AJB-05-2013-0027 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors gratefully acknowledge a Concordia University thesis research grant awarded to the first author.

Purpose – This replication and extension of Hirsch and Gruss examines the impact of spatial density and ambient scent on consumers' spatial perception and anxiety. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach – A 2 (spatial density: high, low)×3 (ambient scent: no scent, scent associated with spaciousness, scent associated with enclosed spaces) between-participants experimental design was implemented in a laboratory setting. A pretest determined scent selection and manipulation checks were successful.

Findings – Spatial perception was influenced by spatial density, but not ambient scent. Ambient scent and spatial density interacted, such that consumers' anxiety levels significantly increased under conditions of low spatial density combined with an ambient scent associated with spaciousness, and directionally increased under conditions of high spatial density combined with ambient scent associated with enclosed space.

Research limitations/implications – This research was conducted in a laboratory setting in order to increase experimental control. An exploration of the strength of the observed effects in a field (retail) setting would be insightful.

Practical implications – Results of this study suggest that retailers need to consider both spatial density and choice of ambient scent carefully in order to reduce consumers' anxiety levels.

Originality/value – This research is one of the few to consider the impact of spatial density and ambient scent on consumers' anxiety levels. The use of a between-participants design and the experimental manipulation of both spatial density and ambient scent results in a more rigorous test of the scent – anxiety relation observed in previous research.

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